Those Three Words

Customers often come to us with requests which include a phrase that makes me smile every time I hear it: “we just want”.

For example, “we just want a simple enhancement. And from our perspective, it should be easy to program. But it shouldn’t take much time, and it should cost next to nothing.”

Right. And I just want a luxury yacht.

By way of comparison, most people know how to drive a car. Nothing could be easier. But suppose your car’s air conditioning fails. It should be an easy fix, right? Just pour more refrigerant into the system, and problem solved for $20!

Your mechanic probably won’t agree.

So also with software development. Because once we lift the hood, things can often get complicated. Fast. Recently a prospective customer called us, asking for a second opinion. They were frustrated with their programmer’s work. The customer said, “we just want the software to stop throwing errors.” Turns out that the code was a twisted mess. I felt sorry for them. They’d paid a lot of money for software that simply reeked. Now they were hoping we could wave a magic wand to clear away the stench.

They weren’t happy to hear our advice—they’d be better off scrapping that code and starting from scratch.

So here’s the moral of the story: There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a quick, easy and inexpensive fix. But take a lesson from the iceberg—there’s usually more going on under water than what you can see above the surface.

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